Country music is one of the most revered music genres in the world. It has originated in the Southern parts of America in the early 1920s. It has its root in the American Folk songs. Thus it has a deep connection with the people of America. It became more famous and more celebrated music with the passage of time. The music went through different phases of its development and has influenced a large number of other genres of music. However, the music is not bound in America only. It has spread its wings and conquered the hearts of people outside of its place of origin. It has millions of people in its thrall. The music has distinctive features that take the listeners to the wilder part of urban American culture. It is also known as Western Music or Hillbilly Music. The music is formed of different types of segments, making it one of a kind.
Origins and Characteristics
The Southern parts of America had a high amount of American folk songs. Those folk songs merged with Blues genre to become the Country music. The working class people and the immigrants of those areas often made songs. Those songs contained their own styles at first. But soon, they began to exchange ideas and create a more harmonious version of those songs. The European stringed instruments were introduced to them by the immigrants who bought it with them. The folk songs were from the locals and the working class people. Gradually the songs took a basic form. And that is the earliest form of country music.
Generally it is composed of simple tunes, ballads and dance tunes. Its form is plain simple, the lyric is Folk and the harmony is simply amazing. The string instruments play a major role in the Country music. Instruments like Banjos, Electric Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, Steel Guitars and Fiddle. The harmonicas are often used in those songs.
Development throughout the history
The Country music has been developing since early 1920s, making its age almost a century. Such long period of development has many phases and changes. The development phase is divided into six different phases considering all the facts. These phases are called generations. Currently, we are part of its sixth generation.
The first generation emerged in the early 1920s. The base country music had already managed to grab the attention of large musicians. Back then, it emerged as the Hillbilly music. New York City record label Okeh Records started to issue the hillbilly records by Fiddin John Carson in the early 1923. More musician and Recording houses followed their path. Many of those hillbilly musicians, however, continued to record Blues songs throughout the 1920s. These activities lead the country music to merge directly with the Blues.
The second generation started in 1930 and ended in late 1940s. The Great Depression lead to the end of first generation as there was a decline of record sales. The radios became the main source of entertainment and Country music industry focused on that part. Country music was popularized by Hollywood films where it was presented in a charming way. This made country music more popular among normal populace. The western culture influenced the music genre and it was known as Western music during this period. Cowboy singing became a popular thing among the people of then America. The western swings became more prominent. A change came into the pattern of instruments. Bob Willis introduced Guitars into the country music for the first time and it spread like fire throughout the country music. New genres of music were introduced during this period. Genres like Hillbilly Boogie, Honky Tonk, Bluegrass, Folk and Gospel came into being. These were highly influenced by the country music while the country music itself was slightly influenced by them.
The Second World War brought another change into the development of Country music. The third generation began with the end of Second World War. The Rock music also spread its wings in the form of Rock and Roll Music. The later was highly influenced by the country music. Country music itself merged with the rock to produce a new genre called Country Rock. Another variation of this merge is Rockabilly. The Nashville sound used the country music to form a multimillion dollars industry. The Nashville Sound made some modifications to the country music, adding a touch of pop music to it. It was largely affected by the British Cultural Invasion. The death of its two lead singers by two separate plane crash finalized its fall. A new subgenre named the Countrypolitan genre was formed then. It reigned for a few years into the recording houses. The Country and Soul music had a cross over in the third generation. It was call Country-Soul. The western music went into decline by the end of 1960s. Several Western genres specially the Cowboy Ballad faced downfall. The third generation ended by the end of 1969.
The fourth generation of Country music started in 1971 and it continued till its end in 1989. New genres of country songs emerged in this period. The Outlaw Country and Red Dart reigned as the king of country music in the early period of fourth generation. Then arrived the Country Pop and the Country Rock. The amalgamation of Pop with Country music created an amazing genre. People loved this new amalgamation and it was a craze for few years. The mixing of Rock with Country had similar effects. A new genre of Country known as Neocountry was introduced in 1980. The next to arrive was Truck Diving Country. It was a Honky Tonks, Country Rock and Bakersfield Sound. This was solely focused on the life of truck drivers and love. By the end of fifth generation, a new movement arose. New country singers emerged who favored the traditional way of Country singing rather than the modern version of it. This was called the Neotraditionalist Movement.
The 1990s is known as the fifth generation of Country music. It was during this time, that Country music gained worldwide popularity. The technological advancement helped with the feat. Country singers rose in fame. And for the first time, female singers gained popularity among the mass population. The Dixie Chick was a band with female members and singers. The band became the most popular country band in the late 1990s and Early 2000s. Another genre emerged from the amalgamation of country music and alternative music. This was called Alt-Country or Alternative Country.
The Sixth generation started in the early 2000s and is still going on. A lot of diversification has been occurred regarding country music. The Country rose in the popular culture. A lot of Pop singers like Taylor Swift are also adept at Country singing.
Beyond the Border
though, Country is mainly American music, it was also adopted by other countries. The English countries like Australia, Canada and United Kingdom has taken the country music as a popular music. Canada has the largest fanbase outside of America. Australian Country, on the other hand, has a long tradition. It was heavily influenced by American country music and developed a distinctive style which was shaped by British and Irish folk ballads and Australian bush ballads. The British have their own kind of development of Country music.
Country music has found its way in other countries too. European neighboring countries of UK were heavily affected by Country music. Countries like India, Iran, Japan and Philippines have communities where Country music is loved, in Asia.
Almost all the details of Country music has been presented here. The particular music can capture your heart and enthrall you with its melodies. The brief history of Country is not less charming than its music.